Bible Verses about Spiritual Growth

  • 1 Corinthians 13:11 CSB
     When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things.
  • Ephesians 4:15-16 CSB
    But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head—Christ.  From him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.
  • Philippians 1:6 CSB
    am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you[a] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
  • Colossians 1:10 CSB
     so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God,
  • Colossians 2:6-7 CSB
    So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.
  • 1 Timothy 4:14-15 CSB
    Don’t neglect the gift that is in you; it was given to you through prophecy, with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. 15 Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all.
  • Hebrews 5:12-14 CSB
     Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God’s revelation again. You need milk, not solid food. 13 Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil.
  • Hebrews 6:1-2 CSB
    Therefore, let us leave the elementary teaching about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, faith in God, teaching about ritual washings,[a] laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment
  • 1 Peter 2:1-3 CSB
    Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander.
     Like newborn infants, desire the pure milk of the word, so that you may grow up into your salvation,  if you have tasted that the Lord is good
  • 2 Peter 3:18 CSB
    But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.

What matters more than age

My son says he is “five-ish.”

He’s actually four and his birthday  is in October, so it’s not that his birthday is coming soon.

He’s simply feeling five, so  this is his new token answer.

“How old are you?”

“I’m five-ish.  I actually look five.  Actually.”

It’s because of a little playground encounter a few weeks ago  with two little boys who became his insta-best-playground  buddies.  They climbed all over the pirate ship together, took turns on the zip line, and then spun in the tire.

Finally, they exchanged names and ages.

That’s when my son realized these other guys were five and they were shorter than he was.  So, therefore, he must look five, or at least “five-ish.”

Maybe it’s the  fact that my baby is trying to age himself or the fact that my girls all finished off another  school year and are off to bigger, higher grade levels, like finishing up middle school of all things–maybe it’s me nearing 40 and feeling all the weight of what that means and how that  looks on me….

Whatever the reason, age is on my mind.

I’ve been thinking how age is inevitable.   Growing older just happens, even if we’d rather it didn’t.

Maturity, on the other hand, is not guaranteed.

In her book Unseen, Sara Hagerty says it this way

We’ll mature without effort into  wrinkles  and gray hair, but our hearts won’t mature deep  into God by default.

But what is this maturing, this  growing up  in Jesus?

It doesn’t come by default, so then it must take discipline.  Yes.  Spiritual disciplines.  Digging into  prayer and digging into His Word and serving and listening to the Lord and worshiping.   Yes and yes and yes and again.

It’s not all so  concrete and straightforward, though.  It  isn’t just about studying and reading and knowing what God’s  Word says.

There’s the discipline of repentance and humility.  It’s stumbling our way through living out faith.  It’s getting it  wrong, humbly confessing that and asking Jesus to  renew, revive, refresh and redeem.

There’s the discipline of weakness, maybe that’s the hardest for me.  When I  am feeling most  dependent on Jesus because I’m not strong enough or capable enough on my own,  I  have to lean.  Leaning can feel like so much brokenness and that’s hard, but it’s also sweet because that is exactly when I know Jesus more.

Failing, messing up, making mistakes, feeling frazzled and overwhelmed:  It’s all my weakness on display, but  I cannot pull away from the hard season, from the difficult or the wearying or the unknown or even what I just haven’t mastered yet.

Christianity isn’t about being perfect; it’s about being transformed.

Then there are the quiet seasons, when life seems to just roll  along day after day, seemingly stagnant, same-old, same-old.

Restless.  I can be so restless.

I want to see big results.  Big change.  Big impact.

Then I read the reminder in Isaiah of how to grow in the discipline of waiting:

but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31 CSB).

I love  this verse in all of the nuances in each translation.

“Those who TRUST in the Lord”  (CSB).

The NIV says “Those who HOPE” and the ESV says “those who WAIT.”

We trust Him.  We hope.  We wait.

The discipline of waiting tucks itself into seasons of quiet and of hiddenness and of not knowing.  It’s about lingering for direction and looking forward to  seeing God at work, but not seeing that work just yet.

When we trust and we hope in Jesus even in the discipline of waiting, we can soar and we can run,  but oh friend,  we can also walk.

Somehow that walking seems  like the greatest feat to me.  Soaring can be exhilarating, running shows great power,  endurance and strength.

But walking takes unique courage.  Walking takes persevering hope.   We’re not seeing leaps of progress, but  we will  not give up.  We aren’t quitting and setting up camp in a land of complacency or dormancy.

We’re being steady,  daily, consistent, steadfast, and faithful.

When the soaring is done and the running is finished and we’re feeling  bone-tired, still  we walk with the Lord today.   Then the next day, we get up and we walk with Him again, and we will not faint nor fail.

I remember that it takes discipline to repent humbly, to fail graciously,  and to wait patiently.   That means I can buck less against what feels uncomfortable or hard and instead embrace what God is doing in me right here and now.   I’m not just arbitrarily aging; I’m maturing in Christ.  Lord, be at work in me.

Filling Out the Form

“I’m your servant—help me understand what that means, the inner meaning of your instruction”  (Psalm 119:125 MSG).

“What do you want to see your child learn during this school year?”

I tapped the eraser end of my pencil on the table.

It’s not a new question.  I’ve been answering it for years.  The first time I registered my oldest daughter for preschool, I sat in a child-sized chair and hunched over a child-sized table and completed the “Help Me Get to Know Your Child” form.

Some questions were easy.  What does she like?  What are her strengths? I scribbled away for a while, trying to sum up my precious daughter in a few sentences on blank lines.

But when it came to that one question—What do you want her to learn?—-tap, tap, tap went the top of the pen on the preschool table.

Tap, tap, tap goes my pencil after Open House for second grade.  Some things never change.

What am I supposed to put on this form?  Multiplication?  Cursive?  Powerful writing skills? 

Truly, I want her to know in a deep-down, unquestioning way that God loves her.

This was Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus:

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:17-19

I’m not talking about being able to rattle off John 3:16 or sing Jesus Loves Me.suddenglory2

In her book A Sudden Glory, Sharon Jaynes notes that the first word for know here is gnosis or ginosko:  “This word is not simply a head knowledge but an intimate heart knowledge,” like the “relationship between a husband and a wife.” (p. 173).

Yes! I want her to love God with that passion and to be filled up with all that God has for her because she trusts and fully knows His love.

And I want her to understand that growing in Christ takes time, a lifetime of time.  There are no shortcuts to faith. 

Rick Warren wrote:

Becoming like Christ is a long, slow process of growth. Spiritual maturity is neither instant nor automatic; it is a gradual, progressive development that will take the rest of your life.

I don’t want her to settle for a safe amount of faith, a reasonable amount of Bible knowledge, a decent prayer life, an appropriate amount of service to God.  I don’t want her to declare, “I’m finished.  This much is enough.  No need for more of God.”

After all, He always leads us forward, perpetually changing us, incessantly maturing us.  His passion is transformation.

It takes hard work.  It takes discipline.  It takes yielding.  It takes willingness to be taught and to change.  As it says in Romans:

… fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.  Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you (Romans 12:2)

This is my prayer for her.

Not head knowledge or wisdom gained through book study and our teacher in these matters has to be more than human.  Paul assures us that, “these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.  The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God”  (vs.10).

The deep things of God.  Is that what I’m asking?

Or as Paul puts it later, “We have the mind of Christ.

He says it with such confidence.  Not we want to have, we will have, someday we’ll have, or if we work hard enough we’ll have.  God has given us His Spirit and with that, “we have the mind of Christ” (vs. 16).

This is what I want my daughters to learn.  This is what I want to learn.  I want every day to know Him more, to be filled by His Spirit, responsive to His promptings, and for my mind not to be filled with self and with world, but with Christ.

I look at the form from her teacher.  How to answer this question?  I decide that being vague is the way to go.  “I want her to fulfill her potential, growing in her strengths even more and improving any weaknesses.”

That’s what I write.  But I pray for so much more.

I pray for the deep things of God.  I pray for the mind of Christ.

Originally posted on September 5, 2012

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Filling Out The Form

“I’m your servant—help me understand what that means, the inner meaning of your instruction”  (Psalm 119:125 MSG).

“What do you want to see your child learn during this school year?”

I tapped the eraser end of my pencil on the table.

It’s not a new question.  I’ve been answering it for years.  The first time I registered my oldest daughter for preschool, I sat in a child-sized chair and hunched over a child-sized table and completed the “Help Me Get to Know Your Child” form.

Some questions were easy.  What does she like?  What are her strengths? I scribbled away for a while, trying to sum up my precious daughter in a few sentences on blank lines.

But when it came to that one question—What do you want her to learn?—-tap, tap, tap went the top of the pen on the preschool table.

Tap, tap, tap goes my pencil after Open House for second grade.  Some things never change.

What am I supposed to put on this form?  Multiplication?  Cursive?  Powerful writing skills? 

Truly, I want her to know in a deep-down, unquestioning way that God loves her.

This was Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus:

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:17-19

I’m not talking about being able to rattle off John 3:16 or sing Jesus Loves Me.

In her book A Sudden Glory, Sharon Jaynes notes that the first word for know here is gnosis or ginosko:  “This word is not simply a head knowledge but an intimate heart knowledge,” like the “relationship between a husband and a wife.” (p. 173).

Yes! I want her to love God with that passion and to be filled up with all that God has for her because she trusts and fully knows His love.

And I want her to understand that growing in Christ takes time, a lifetime of time.  There are no shortcuts to faith. 

Rick Warren wrote:

Becoming like Christ is a long, slow process of growth. Spiritual maturity is neither
instant nor automatic; it is a gradual, progressive development that will take the
rest of your life.

I don’t want her to settle for a safe amount of faith, a reasonable amount of Bible knowledge, a decent prayer life, an appropriate amount of service to God.  I don’t want her to declare, “I’m finished.  This much is enough.  No need for more of God.”

After all, He always leads us forward, perpetually changing us, incessantly maturing us.  His passion is transformation.

It takes hard work.  It takes discipline.  It takes yielding.  It takes willingness to be taught and to change.  As it says in Romans:

… fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.  Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you (Romans 12:2)

This is my prayer for her.

Not head knowledge or wisdom gained through book study and our teacher in these matters has to be more than human.  Paul assures us that, “these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.  The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God”  (vs.10).

The deep things of God.  Is that what I’m asking?

Or as Paul puts it later, “We have the mind of Christ.

He says it with such confidence.  Not we want to have, we will have, someday we’ll have, or if we work hard enough we’ll have.  God has given us His Spirit and with that, “we have the mind of Christ” (vs. 16).

This is what I want my daughters to learn.  This is what I want to learn.  I want every day to know Him more, to be filled by His Spirit, responsive to His promptings, and for my mind not to be filled with self and with world, but with Christ.

I look at the form from her teacher.  How to answer this question?  I decide that being vague is the way to go.  “I want her to fulfill her potential, growing in her strengths even more and improving any weaknesses.”

That’s what I write.  But I pray for so much more.

I pray for the deep things of God.  I pray for the mind of Christ.

How would you answer this question?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Living In Between, Part I

It’s a mess; that’s what it is.

It’s this awkward time when my daughter isn’t quite size 7, but not really still a 6x either.  Triple that for all three of my girls and imagine the wardrobe fallout.

They’re just in between.

The dresses are too short, the sleeves on the shirts ride up on their arms, but the next size of pants fit like clown clothes.

So, there’s this season where their wardrobe is a hodgepodge of sizes, a paradise for Goldilocks.  Some too small.  Some too big.  And hopefully enough that are “just right.”

And there are the disagreements about what fits and what doesn’t.  They swim into bulky dresses and shirts that slip off their thin shoulders just so they can wear something new.

Then these same girls cram themselves into shirts that crawl up above their belly button and pants that now look like capris because they don’t want to give up their favorite outfit.

It’s all about transition.  It’s a time of in-betweeness.  It’s uncomfortable.  Messy.  Awkward.  Ill-fitting.

It’s life.

So often we live in the in-between.
We’re preparing for a ministry we haven’t yet started.
We’re moving from job to job, home to home, ministry to ministry.
Our children somehow change from babies to toddlers to little kids to big kids to teens to adults and we can’t say when it happened.
We’re saying goodbye, but haven’t found a place to say hello.

Our transition pitfalls are the same as they are for my daughters and their fashion crises.

We want to leap ahead before we’re ready and end up tripping all over ourselves.

Or, we cram ourselves into comfortable situations that are now stretched to the max and busting the seams.  We resist change.  We linger in the past.  We’re trapped by shame or even nostalgia and we’ll miss out on the new in order to remain in the known.

Scripture is strangely silent about many transition times.

Take Paul.  After his dramatic conversion, he spent time learning how to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, putting aside his old life as a persecutor, but not yet leading the church or serving as a missionary to the Gentiles.

He was in between.

In Galatians, Paul tells us, “I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.   Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen day” (Galatians 1:17-18). 

We can’t tell how long his training for ministry lasted.  He spent time alone in Arabia, away from the Jerusalem church.  Then he stayed in Damascus for three years.  Finally, he traveled to Jerusalem where he hung out with Peter for 15 days (Cephas).

So often we forget this time in Paul’s life.  We see him converted and then we see him as a radical missionary enduring shipwrecks and stonings and imprisonment. At least, that’s how it went on the flannel boards in our Sunday School classes all those years ago.

But his was no overnight preparation for ministry.  It took years of radical change for Saul to become Paul.

Surely Paul could have met Jesus on the road to Damascus, had his eyesight restored, and then high-tailed it to Jerusalem to present himself to James and the rest of the church leaders.  He could have declared, “Send me in, Coach!”

Yet, he would have been immature: full of enthusiasm, but little spiritual maturity.  He probably would have scared the Christians into hiding.  They likely thought he was faking his conversion in order to infiltrate the church and kill them all.

Paul also didn’t have a heart for the Gentiles yet.  Maybe that happened in Arabia when he realized that not many people there had even heard of Jesus Christ—and if Paul needed a Savior, well maybe they did, too.

Most of the time between Jesus’ birth and His public ministry is a blank also. We know He lived in Egypt as a child, but we know nothing about His time there.

Scripture only tells us about one event in Jesus’ childhood, when his parents left him during their pilgrimage to Jerusalem when he was 12 years old.  Traveling as a large group, they just assumed he was with others in their entourage.

Can’t you just hear his parents when they discovered his absence? “I thought he was with you!”  “Well, I thought he was with you!”

Jesus’ response to His parents when they found Him teaches us what to do when we’re in the in-between times of life.

  • He told his parents, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).  We need to be where God is.  Jesus wasn’t performing miracles or teaching on hillsides yet.  That was for the future.  Likewise, we can’t run ahead of God or lag behind His timing.  We need to be obedient to His plan for us right now.
  • During his transition time, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature” (Luke 2:52).  Soak up everything you can learn while you wait.  Don’t twiddle your thumbs and assume this time is pointless. Dig deep in is Word.  Learn from others.  Wear your knees out in prayer.  Be a receptive student.
  • Be sensitive to others: Transition times aren’t just hard for us; they are difficult for others, too.  Some people won’t understand when you take a break from ministry.  Others may not support you in something new.  Some people will try to hold you back.  Others will push and nudge you ahead of God’s timing. After His parents found Him in the temple, Jesus “went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them” (Luke 2:51).  Obey God’s timing, but be gracious always and submissive to your leadership when possible.

In the in-between times, we look to God as our guide, we enjoy His presence and remain contented in His plan for us, just like the Psalmist wrote “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11, ESV)

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King